Best Fitness Tracker Watches For 2019 [Our Reviews and Comparisons]

Best Fitness Tracker Watches

Fitness trackers have become increasingly popular over the years.

Why is that? - They help people understand what they’re doing wrong during their workouts and give them extensive information on how to live a healthier lifestyle.

Sure, not all of them come cheap. But, having the benefit of smartwatch notifications, heart rate monitoring, and GPS tracking on your wrist is worth the money if you want to treat your body with respect.

This article rounds up some of the best fitness tracker watches on the market from the most advanced to the most basic and everything in between.

Fitness Tracker Watches Comparison Chart

IMAGEPRODUCT
EDITOR'S CHOICE 1. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus
  • Features a barometer
  • Comes with a wide range of preprogrammed sports and activities
  • Skewed towards HIIT programs
  • Good screen readability
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RUNNER UP 2. Fitbit Versa
  • On-Screen Workouts
  • Connected GPS
  • Music Experience
  • Over 4 Days of Battery Life
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3. Apple Watch Series 3
  • Built-in barometer
  • Solid battery performance
  • Improved processor
  • Accurate sensors
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4. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro
  • Battery lasts up to 40 hours in full training mode and with GPS activated
  • Compatible with Strava data sharing
  • Storm alarm
  • Support for 80 different sports
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5. Nokia Steel Smartwatch
  • Elegant design
  • Battery lasts eight months
  • Waterproof
  • Affordable
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6. Garmin Vivofit 4
  • Always on display
  • 1 year battery - no charging required
  • Tracks steps, distance and calories burned
  • Safe for swimming and showering
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7. Moov Now
  • The battery lifeis as high-end as it gets
  • Great storage capacity for advanced workouts
  • Voice notifications
  • No smartwatch features translate to fewer distractions during workouts
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Our Fitness Tracker Reviews

1. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus – Best High-End Option

While there’s nothing wrong with wearing this big watch in an indoor setting, it truly shines at outdoor workouts. The watch has excellent fitness tracking capabilities for a wide range of activities on the ground and in the water.

The watch is available in three different sizes. It comes with a full-color screen and a very solid construction. If it feels a bit rugged, it’s because it’s made to work in harsh conditions.

Extreme training is not a problem given the scratch-resistant lens and 10ATM waterproofing. And, the screen readability is very impressive also thanks to the LED backlighting and the transflective display.

One of the coolest features is the new topographic navigation system. The maps on the Fenix 5 Plus are displayed in full color and show a lot more detail than in the previous iterations of the watch.

Among the sensors tracking your every move. you’ll notice the standard accelerometer, heartrate sensor, but also a thermometer. The accuracy is pretty ok too and it helps you extrapolate even more data from your workout routines.

But what good is all that data if you don’t know what to look at? – Don’t worry, the Fenix 5 Plus gives you plenty of hints and suggestions based on your recordings and it can also estimate your fitness age based on your performance.

Of course, the complexity of the Fenix 5 Plus is not just for the diehard athletes. Given its compatibility with a broad range of sports, the watch is just as suited for runners and swimmers as it is for golfers and climbers.

Though the watch comes preprogrammed with a variety of sports modes, you can also create your own parameters and programs.

To make full use of its potential, you may need an HRM chest strap or a Running Dynamics Footpod because neither vertical oscillation nor power is measured from the wrist.

The accuracy of the sensors is pretty high-end. For instance, the watch picks up your change in pace almost immediately when you switch from running speed to hiking speed and it switches the modes so that you can track your performance for the current activity.

  • Screen: Yes
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Heart rate tracker: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Barometer: Yes
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: Yes
  • Battery life: 18 hours
  • Warranty: 2 Years
  • Compatibility: Android/iOS
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

2. Fitbit Versa – Best for Women

The Versa comes with an anodized aluminum case which is durable and most importantly very light. This combines with the customizable design to give the watch an almost unparalleled level of comfort both as a fitness tracker and lifestyle watch.

The touchscreen is colorful and is entirely legible in bright sunlight and underwater (on the maximum brightness setting). However, keep in mind that the watch is only waterproof rated at 5ATM, so you can’t go diving too deep.

The responsiveness of the touchscreen has improved from previous models, now performing uninterrupted. This should allow users to make quick adjustments to fitness tracking parameters as well as to the music controller.

The watch has many preprogrammed tracking modes for a variety of sports. However, it’s the running tracker that has one of the coolest features.

When in running mode, the watch detects your speed, cadence, power, and heart rate. It also automatically detects when you’re taking a break and adjust the activity tracking accordingly, so you can get a proper overview of your vitals post-workout.

The user interface and menu navigation are also quite simple. Selecting the running mode is as easy as swiping left on the home screen and tapping the icon.

The watch also has accurate tracking for treadmill workouts and weight training which is not a given with all fitness watches. There’s also an interval timer if you want to customize your programs to increase or lower their difficulty.

Swiping left and right during a workout displays even more vital signs and tracking variables relevant to the activity. Of course, after you sync the watch with your smartphone, you can use its app to conduct an even more in-depth analysis of your performance.

When you’re done working out, you have to end the program manually. At that point, you’ll instantly receive a brief summary onscreen of your activity which should give you enough important information until you start digging into the data in the app.

The Versa may be a stripped-down version of the Fitbit Ionic but it is nonetheless an accurate fitness tracker. The added smartwatch lifestyle features give it a bit of flair and compensate for the lack of GPS tracking.

  • Screen: Yes
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Heart rate tracker: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Barometer: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: No
  • Battery life: 4 days
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Compatibility: Android/iOS
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

3. Apple Watch Series 3 – Best for Apple Enthusiasts and iOS Connectivity

The Apple Watch Series 3 may not be the best option out there for dedicated athletes, but it is the best fitness tracker for diehard Apple users. Sure, there are other watches that offer iOS compatibility but not at the level of this Apple gadget.

Although the Apple Watch 4 is now on the market, the Watch 3 seems to have a slight edge in pricing and fitness tracking.

The GPS version of the Watch 3 comes with an improved chipset and a considerably higher accuracy and responsiveness for geolocation tracking. This should help users get a much better sense of their workout performance when hiking, running, climbing, and swimming.

Although the built-in cellular connection is not something necessary of a fitness tracker, given the impressive call quality it does add value for the money. Keep in mind that you still need an iPhone to set up the watch for use as a standalone device.

The Apple Music and Beats Radio connectivity is great. But so is the added cost if you want an extensive playlist on your wrist.

The screen is bright as you would expect, though it hasn’t seen any improvement as far as clarity goes. All Apple watches seem to have the same level of brightness, which is still good even a few meters underwater.

On the fitness front, Apple promotes a healthy lifestyle through the use of advanced technology. The improved heart rate monitoring and other superior sensors used on the Watch 3 record everything you do.

This includes workout heart rates, resting heart rates, running power, cadence, heart rate variability, and much more. The minor downside is that the watch offers very little insight into what everything translates to.

You will need the help of a third-party app or a deep understanding of fitness to make sense of all that information, especially for the advanced metrics.

  • Screen: Yes
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Heart rate tracker: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Barometer: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: No
  • Battery life: 24 hours
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Compatibility: iOS
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

4. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro – Best with GPS

The Spartan Wrist HR Baro doesn’t come with many improvements the standard, to be honest. It does come with a barometer included, hence the name, but that only helps a handful of users.

The main draw of this watch is what makes most Suunto sports watches special and that is the Movescount platform. This allows the watch to track and record key metrics for at least 80 different sports.

The watch can track over 20 stats for skiers, which is why they make up the majority of its user base. The Suunto’s accurate GPS, barometer, heart rate sensor, and oxygen consumption tracking are all important to this sport.

The route tracker is also a must-have for any type of mountain slope sport. But it’s worth pointing out that the user interface and menu navigation aren’t the best, especially if you’re wearing gloves.

The route tracker has a very cool navigational feature. If you’re the type of individual that enjoys particularly long routes, you can use the route tracker to easily find your way back to the starting location,i.e. where you first turned on the GPS.

The touchscreen is very responsive. In fact, it’s so responsive that it is possible to stop the program if you accidentally swipe it over your sleeve. This can be somewhat annoying until you find the appropriate clothing for it.

The Spartan Sport HR Baro is a solid fitness tracker. It is also equipped and programmed to record and analyze your resting vitals.

However, the gadget is quite bulky, not the optimal choice for 24-hour use. Sleeping with it on your wrist can be uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, the watch is eye-catching despite its size. And, with the customizable watch faces and interchangeable straps, it makes up for the added weight and lack of comfort during the night.

  • Screen: Yes
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Heart rate tracker: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Barometer: Yes
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: Yes
  • Battery life: 10 hours
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Compatibility: Android/iOS
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

This multisport watch has a wide range of preprogrammedactivities, but this is not its main selling point. For most users, the barometric altimeter and highly accurate GPS chipset are the two reasons why the Spartan Sport HR Baro is worth the extra penny.

5. Nokia Steel Smartwatch – Sleekest Design

While not technically designed as the ultimate fitness tracker, the Nokia Steel smartwatch is still quite capable of tracking essential metrics for the amateur athlete.

What makes this watch special is basically its design. It’s one of the sleekest on the market with basic fitness tracking.

The watch is a solid choice for anyone that wants a lifestyle watch and fitness watch combo with an emphasis on style and long-lasting battery.

Because the Nokia Steel doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, the power consumption is low. It’s also screenless which makes the watch all the more interesting.

The steel borders and curved glass top create elegance for this traditional-styled watch. The strap is also slim and very flexible, providing plenty of comfort during strenuous activity and during sleep.

The watch is waterproof rated up to 5ATM. However, it is recommended that you take extra care when replacing the battery as this could ruin the waterproofing.

So how does the fitness tracking work? – The Nokia Steel uses an accelerometer for sleep monitoring and for counting steps.

Monitoring your goal is easy as the secondary dial tracks progress. If you exceed your goal, the tracker reverts to the 0 position and resumes the count.

What’s interesting is that you don’t get to choose the activity. Instead, the accelerometer recognizes the intensity and records your activity,whether it’s a run, walk, or swim.

The data collected can then be viewed and analyzed in the Health Mate app. You can also review older workouts to get a better sense of your progress.

  • Screen: No
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Heart rate tracker: No
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Barometer: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: No
  • Battery life: 8months
  • Warranty: 1 year limited
  • Compatibility: N/A
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

PROS

  • check
    Elegant design
  • Battery lasts eight months
  • Waterproof
  • Affordable

CONS

  • No GPS
  • No heart rate monitoring
  • Casing not tamperproof

6. Garmin Vivofit 4 – Best Budget Option

From its design, the Vivofit 4 looks a lot more like a fitness band than a fitness tracking watch. If it were not for the screen and phone notifications, one could hardly advertise it as a watch.

Be that as it may, this is one of the cheapest options on the market and perhaps the top choice for the average jogger.

The device uses a regular watch battery and there are very little features to drain it. This allows you to keep it on all the time for constant tracking without worrying that it will burn out by the time you hit the trail.

The watch is also very comfortable, partly because of the thin strap but also for theultra-lightweight design.

You can use just one button, located under the screen, to browse through all the features. These include distance traveled, calories burned, weather information, and step count.

The watch is capable of a lot more but only when using the phone app. Therefore, real-time display of key metrics is not possible during most workouts. Besides, the screen is too small to fit much more information on it.

The accelerometer in the Vivofit 4 is capable of recognizing different styles of exercises by intensity. It can differentiate between running, jogging, and walking which comes in very useful when you’re using the app.

If you want more in-depth tracking, you could always connect the watch to your phone and use the phone’s GPS to supplement data into the app. You can also connect a chest strap heart rate monitor if you want.

  • Screen: Yes
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Heart rate tracker: No
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Barometer: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: No
  • Battery life: Up to one year
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Compatibility: Android/iOS
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

7. Moov Now – Best for Swimmers

The Moov Now is a very unique-looking fitness tracker with extensive tracking capabilities despite its simplistic design and interface.

The gadget comes with preprogrammed workouts and drills for a variety of sports including cycling, running, boxing, aerobics, and swimming. It even does a good job of tracking sleep activity.

The accuracy of the device is nothing short of impressive given how small and cheap it is. But it does lack a bit of variety when it comes to HIIT drills and you can’t create custom exercises.

Minute-by-minute updates are displayed for certain activities such as running. Depending on the program, you’re also alerted about whether you’re keeping up with the program.

Once your drill is over, you’ll receive all the important metrics that you need. You’ll also receive a sort of grade or summary of your performance.

The Moov Now is tough on its users so be prepared to be told if you’re not doing a terrific job.While it captures a lot of data such as VO2, step power, etc., it doesn’t give suggestions on how to improve yourself.

Even with the lack of diversity for HIIT programs, the Moov Now does feature great workout progressions, which is one of the reasons it is viewed as a great personal trainer.

But what makes it so great for swimmers? – For one, you don’t need your smartphone near the pool.

This one records and stores up to 120 minutes of activity in the water. Just keep in mind that its waterproof rating is only good for about 10 feet.

However, it tracks total swimming time, calories burned, distance, laps, average stroke rates, turn times, and a lot more. All you have to do is input the pool length into the app.

  • Screen: No
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Heart rate tracker: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Barometer: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: No
  • Battery life: 6 months
  • Warranty:1 year limited
  • Compatibility: Android
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

This fitness gadget puts a lot of high-end smartwatches to shame. It’s almost ridiculously cheap considering the accuracy of the data it collects and the amount of preprogrammed guided routines for a variety of activities.

FINAL VERDICT

While the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus may be one of the best fitness tracker watches, it is also a very expensive model. Still, it combines excellent smartwatch features with in-depth vitals tracking to please both casual runners and hardcore athletes.

But, these days, there are plenty of affordable fitness trackers on the market if that’s all you’re looking for. The Moov Now fitness tracker is a perfect example of that given the extensive amount of information it captures, even if nothing is displayed in real time.

Not everyone will have the same requirements when it comes to fitness watches, but if this list shows anything, it is that there is at least one model out there tailor-made for one’s requirements.

Buyer's Guide

Every year I receive dozens of emails asking for advice on selecting fitness trackers & sports watches. Sometimes it’s a birthday gift for friend or family, more often it’s a personal treat.

Buying a fitness tracker is often the first step to a new, improved, fitter and healthier you.

Buying the right model can have a postive impact on helping to achieve your fitness goals / performance objective.

The wrong model can lead to de-motivation and even worse, abandoning your training program.

Whether you are a beginner taking the first few steps up the fitness ladder or an elite athelte looking for minute improvements, CardioCritic can help.

With a background in Sport Science I’m qualified in the application and prescription of sports training at all levels. To help you make the best choice I have focused on the very best watches in each category. The prices given are an approximate guideline and may go up or down.

The aim of CardioCritic.com is to ensure you get the latest product at a great price, or a previous model at a seriously reduced price.

Garmin announced their new Forerunner 645 with internal music storage earlier this year. I think this will rapidly become one of the most popular Garmin watches ever. Check our review of the Forerunner 645 here.

Are you looking for a sports watch that is suitable for ANY SPORT whether running, cycling, sailing, kayaking, football, squash, hockey, gym, aerobics, crossfit, HiiT etc. If so, then we recommend the brilliant Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR or new Garmin Vivoactive 3.

I tested the Suunto Spartan Trainer wrist HR for over 4 weeks confidently recommend it to EVERYBODY and ANYBODY looking for a GPS multi-sport watch with wrist based heart rate.

The same can be said for the 5 Star Reviewed Garmin Vivoactive 3 the perfect all-round sports training partner for 95% of customers (with the exception of triathletes).

This is the most popular category for general fitnesswell-being and health. The aim of these fitness trackers is to discretely monitor your daily activity levels, motivating the wearer to increased activity and improved fitness.

This is the most popular category for general fitness, well-being and health. The aim of these fitness trackers is to discretely monitor your daily activity levels, motivating the wearer to increased activity and improved fitness.

Last Updated on March 29, 2019

Best Fitness Tracker Watches For 2019 [Our Reviews and Comparisons]
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